What is a Petition Letter for Employment Based Immigration?
A petition letter, which discusses the reference letters and other pieces of evidence, serves to tie the petition together by providing a thorough discussion of the alien’s work and why it meets the criteria for extraordinary ability. Using legal arguments, the petition letter addresses how the alien meets the criteria for the visa. An index of exhibits is included at the end of the petition letters, which the petition letter references for evidence.
A petition letter is generally around 25 -30 pages long double spaced. Its format includes an introduction of the alien’s achievements and qualifications, proof of extraordinary or exceptional ability, proof that the alien seeks to enter the U.S. to continue work in the area of ability, proof that the alien’s entry will substantially benefit the U.S., and a conclusion. Included in the proof of extraordinary/exceptional ability section is how the alien meets each of the necessary criteria. Also, the petition letter relies heavily on direct quotes from the reference letters as evidence, so it is important to have strong reference letters.
Reference Letters for NIW (National Interest Waiver) and EB-1 (Aliens of Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Professor/Researcher)
Reference letters are important since they serve as crucial evidence for the meeting the necessary criteria. They can be used to demonstrate or confirm the significance of the alien’s work and the recognition of their achievements.
The alien should choose letter writers who are experts in the alien’s field or in a similar field. Unlike typical reference letters, for employment based immigration petitions, it is best to find independent letter writers who do not know the alien personally and have not worked with him/her. This is because USCIS views independent letter writers as having less of a personal stake in having the petition approved. It is also helpful to find letter writers who can demonstrate that the work has had an influence on other researchers in the field.
Petitions should have at least several reference letters, which include a short biography of the letter writer’s credentials, discussion of the alien’s work and why it is significant. A good reference letter should overall demonstrate the alien’s ability. The letter writer should clearly state that the letter is independent if it is. It is important to back up claims with evidence in letters. It is also necessary to emphasize what the alien has already accomplished, as opposed to describing work as promising or perhaps being significant in the future.
Reference letters can be used to demonstrate achievement/influence in an area where the alien’s credentials are not as strong.